Three of the first 10 players in the 2013 draft continue to hold out from training camp, with the use of offset money on guaranteed contracts continuing to be the major sticking point for all three, primarily since under the rookie wage scale it’s the really only sticking point.
The Cardinals still have yet to see guard Jonathan Cooper (the seventh overall pick), the Jets have gotten camp rolling without Darrelle Revis replacement Dee Milliner (the ninth pick), and the Titans are still waiting for guard Chance Warmack (the 10th selection).
Through Sunday, Cooper and Milliner will have missed three days, and Warmack will have missed four. (It’s a good thing no one holds out anymore.)
Jets coach Rex Ryan, who surely presumed he was done with cornerbacks who like to hold out when Revis was traded to Tampa, said Sunday he’s “frustrated” and “disappointed” that Milliner isn’t there. (At least he’s not flabbergasted. Yet.)
And for good reason. As one league source explained it, rookies can’t afford to miss training-camp practices. Each one puts them farther behind, and they could end up spending the entire season trying to catch up. With Ryan needing to have a strong showing this season, he needs the most he can get out of Milliner.
All three holdouts arise directly from the battle over the meaningless-in-the-grand-scheme of things offset clause.
Three of the players taken in the top 10 managed to have offset language removed from their fully-guaranteed contracts. Four of the other top-10 players finagled structural adjustments in exchange for keeping in the term that prevents double-dipping in the event the player is cut before his rookie deal ends.
The alternative structure isn’t without potential flaws, however,. As one league source with extensive knowledge of the negotiation of top-10 contracts has explained it, the use of a significant training-camp roster bonus in year four makes it harder for the player to hold out, if the team declines to give the player a new deal when he becomes eligible after three seasons.
Holding out, if under contract, is still no easy task under the new labor deal, since the player can be fined $30,000 for each day missed.
Players not under contract can’t be fined. But they’re missing valuable time with their teams. All because of a term that will become an issue only if the players become busts.
If they don’t show up soon, their chance of becoming busts could increase.